Final inning slam gives Turlock win

Vince Wheeland didn't even feel the ball hit the bat. That's how the Turlock senior knew he hit it well.

Wheeland launched a grand slam in the seventh inning to put the finishing touches on Turlock's come-from-behind 7-3 win over Merced on Wednesday.

Turlock overcame a 3-0 deficit with two runs in the sixth and five in the seventh in a matchup of the teams tied atop the Central California Conference standings.

"You have to give our guys credit, they battled back," Turlock coach Mark de la Motte said. "We wilted there in the middle of the game, but we bounced back at the end."

Turlock's Jeremy McDonald and Merced's Andrew Jaurique controlled the game early. The two left-handers matched zero for zero through the first four innings.

McDonald didn't give up a hit until the fifth.

Jaurique changed speeds and hit his spots and held Turlock in check until he got tired.

"He had good location," said de la Motte about the Merced junior. "He was a little sneaky fast. We didn't expect that, but he was. He pitched very well. I wish he was a senior."

Turlock (7-2 CCC, 17-6 overall) blinked first.

Merced's Alec Winn led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a walk. An out later, Derek Slate dropped a bunt for a hit to put runners on first and third. Chad May blooped a single to right to score the first run, then Jaurique helped himself with a two-out, two-run single that gave Merced (6-3 CCC, 11-13 overall) a 3-0 lead.

In the sixth, Turlock turned two errors and a hit batter into a pair of runs to cut the deficit to 3-2.

"You have to tip your hat to Turlock," said Merced coach Lou Souza. "They're a good hitting team. They put a dent in us in the sixth inning. It made it easier for them to hurt us in the seventh."

Turlock's seventh-inning outburst started with McDonald drawing a one-out walk. After failing to get a bunt down on the first pitch, Ricky Fuentes lined a ground-rule double to left.

Merced walked Kevin Kramer to load the bases and Ryan Flood followed a fly ball that the wind carried all the way back to the fence in left field for an RBI single to tie the game 3-3.

Souza then brought in right-hander Scott Eldridge to relieve Jaurique.

Merced will try to salvage a series split at Turlock on Friday against Wheeland, who is 8-0 with a 0.51 ERA.

"We saw him in relief today and I told our guys we'll see him on Friday," Souza said. "He's one of the best around. We have to go after it.

"We took some good swings off him today. He's human."